By Lanre Alfred.
A glance behind the glitter. A dreamy, colourful assemblage of family. Two simple vows. A kiss. A dozen balloons and a heartfelt smile. The majesty of the union was abundant in its ritual splendour, but its soul was all in the small things: the inexorable build-up of guests and spectators along the ceremonial route was at first a straggle of gem-bedecked big shots, then arrived the crowds of friends, family, business associates and family, all intent on squeezing into the same small corner of a sprawling city.
If Lagos was a ship, she would have listed days before the wedding of Gozy the “Digital” daughter of Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, the Chairman of Zinox Group and her heartthrob, Tolu Ijogun. And that was because Lagos, the country’s social capital, uncharacteristically tilted to the weight of an unprecedented regal influx.
Some of the guests were locals, but many had travelled across Nigeria, Africa and other parts of the world to witness the union of the two lovebirds. And then there were the spectators, most of whom were lucky or determined enough to grab the best vantage points to catch fleeting glimpses of the choice posh cars and their smartly- dressed occupants as they arrived for the event. A greater press of people, their views obscured, raised smart phones like periscopes. What mattered was not seeing the pageantry but living it.
It was indeed a grand day for the young couple as both parents dug into the depth of their vast social contacts to make their day as remarkable and grand as it could ever be. Preeminent socialites made the wedding their convergence point for the day. And they could not have had a better host than Leo Stan Ekeh who ensured that every invitee had a memorably good time.
The traditional wedding ceremony took place in Ubomiri, Mbaitoli Local Government in Imo State two Sundays ago, where the bride’s father, Leo recently built an imposing Catholic church for his community. Gozy is truly the apple of the family’s eye. At 24, the pretty young lady has been described as pride of her family. With an enviable combination of beauty and brain, Gozy flaunts two brilliant degrees from the University College, London and London School of Economics and her groom, Tolu, 25, an MBA holder, is equally brilliant and blessed with astounding dash and humility that has so far endeared him to Gozy and the rest of the Ekeh family.
The wedding ceremony boasted a kaleidoscope of guests, sumptuous local and international delicacies, choice drinks and impressive gifts for the new couple. The reception which held at the prestigious Eko Hotel was in every respect, a huge success and the venue of the high-octane party held immediately after the church service at the prestigious Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, VI, Lagos, drew a perfect blend of A-listers ranging from technocrats, industrialists to young professionals. As she ambled down the aisle with her sweetheart on her wedding day, Gozy was literally over-joyed. The crème de la créme of Nigerian society turned out in to rejoice with them. Beaming with smiles that enlivened the atmosphere of the church, she clung onto Tolu as if her life depended on him. It sure does, having sworn to spend the rest of their lives together. They couldn’t have had a better wedding.
At the mega-watt red-carpet, every guest was treated like a star leaving no one in doubt as to why friends, family and business associates of the new couple would take more than a passing interest in the event that attracted Yoruba’s best and Ibo’s most glamorous personalities.
Spectators observing the proceedings and the security detail keeping order on the ceremonial routes may also have wondered how much had been put into the event to make it as memorable as it was – according to an obviously shaken spectator, it was in every respect, reminiscent of a “semi-state” occasion. Yet this wasn’t a spectacle of interest only to audiences with tangible links to the couple. The marriage of the Tolu, a very handsome dude fro Igbara Oke , Ondo State, and his sweetheart, Gozy gripped a wider audience, reaching places not represented at the ceremony and without historical ties to the participating families.
Friends and families of the couple played appreciable roles in making the event a resounding success. People love a love story, and they are thirsty for narratives of hope in difficult times. But more than that, the recent wedding of these silverspoon kids, while it left some people swooning, left many people even more awe-struck than might have been initially expected of an extraordinary gathering.
News of the couples’ engagement and eventual wedding ceremony predictably kindled the fascination of Yoruba and Ibo high societies. Therefore, on D-day of the much talked about wedding ceremony, friends, families, business associates as well as other preeminent members of both tribes’ glamour pack stormed Lagos thus triggering the mysterious alchemy that turns spectators into participants in their own history. As the bride stepped out of the car, you knew that a huge chunk of humanity was watching as you were, straining for a first glimpse of the dress as you were, caught up in the moment as you were. “This is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope,” said an enthralled lady among the guests, and as the couple exchanged vows, a significant portion of the glamorous audience, for those moments at least, shared an idea and a dream.
And it was indeed, the beautiful couple’s dream. Both the bride and groom joyously beamed with smiles lending cadence to the belief that it had always been their dream to in love, marry a soul mate and grow so happy for such a splendid moment that the whole world would pause to marvel and rejoice with them, falling in love with them while wishing for their kind of life.
Take the bride for instance, on the d-day; the sunshine of her shy smile outshone even the most demure royalty. She became the most famous woman on earth even if for just a brief spell. The way she carried herself indicated among other things that she was finally, living a fairy tale in which she had always imagined herself to be a princess and her soul mate, a prince, with whom she had truly evolved to be a queen.
The couples’ love story is indeed a lovers’ delight devoid of the vanities and foibles of the much hackneyed postmodern romance that have always been such an integral part of every couples’ story — and because they acted out the latest chapters astride Yoruba and Ibo, like a soap opera with such compelling charisma, with unrivalled facility for infectiousness and lyricism; they are today, the toast of every romantic yearning to love and be loved back.
But was it just that: the unimpeachable romantic vanishes, and they are the bench mark of a prosaic-like narrative? Or was it because their dream union gave emotional resonance to the profuse and sometimes conflicting details of the most intensely idealized love, uncovering passion through melodic retrospective, inchoate but nevertheless reassuring proofs of destiny and meaning? Or perhaps all of that is not quite the heart of their story. Perhaps their union was about something simple yet profound, something cosmic yet common.
What cannot be denied is that in their union, there was majesty, that fascinating natural resource of the romantic enterprise, a gift celebrated by Jane Austen, one of the greatest bards as “a truth universally acknowledged.” Still, majesty is a concept that requires re-enchantment every generation or so — and in this time the spell was the couple.
Tolu, the groom had obviously worked the magic as Gozy undeniably dazzled like the quintessential bride chancing upon the most inspiring exemplar of ideal love and family life, albeit one adorned with passion and tiaras. Gozy would continue to dream. She would persevere. She would be dutiful. She would obey. Tolu on the other hand would serve. He would gallantly interpret his most dreamy and chivalrous role yet, as husband, lover and best friend forever. As they embarked, on one of the most blissful matrimonial sojourn yet, friends, families and associates wished them the best of everything true love could found; a lifetime untainted by the infidelities and disappointments that befalls even the most idyllic of matrimonies.
Although many would argue that the happy family is a protean myth, a shifting shape with the fashion of the times; the Ijoguns enthused that they hope they would never have cause to subscribe in such jaded reality. Among other things, unlike most unhappy families that abound, they hope to be trapped in cycles of love and tireless romance.